# 21 Feet Is Way Too Close!!

By: Frank Borelli It is common knowledge that a suspect, armed with an edged weapon and within twenty-one feet of a police officer presents a deadly threat. Why? Because the "average" man can run that twenty-one feet in about one-point-five seconds; the same one-point-five seconds it will take that police officer to recognize danger, draw and point his weapon, and then pull the trigger. Even if the officer manages to get the shot off, and even if it hits the suspect; even if it instantly disables the suspect, the blade is going to be so close to the officer that the suspect's momentum may continue forward with enough force for the edged weapon to end up injuring the officer anyway. The information contained in the above paragraph has long been accepted in police and court circles. "If a man has a knife and is within twenty-one feet, he presents a deadly threat and the use of deadly force against him is justified." Here is the question then: How far away does that suspect, armed with an edged weapon, have to be before he's not a deadly threat? A gentleman named Magliato shot a "bad guy" who was armed with a baseball bat and standing thirtytwo feet away. The courts convicted Magliato claiming that at a distance of thirty-two feet, the suspect with the baseball bat could not present deadly force against Magliato; perhaps they were wrong. If it takes a man a mere one-point-five seconds to run across twenty-one feet, how long would it take to go thirty-two feet? The simple answer would be to add half, right? If thirty-two feet is about one-and-one-half times twenty-one, then oneand-one-half times the time of one-point-five seconds should be correct. Wrong. That one-point-five seconds for running twenty-one feet is from a dead stop. To assume that thirtytwo feet would take fifty percent longer would be a mistake because you would have to assume that the bad guy started,

1

If you accepted that logic. the bad guy will get to the police officer and begin his attack. the bad guy 2 . for another six to fourteen seconds! As mathematics just proved. let's consider the cop with his gun holstered and the bad guy thirty-two feet away with an edged weapon or other form of lethal force. The bullet hits the bad guy when the bad guy has traveled about twenty-two feet or is about ten feet away from the officer. restarted and then reached thirty-two feet.stopped at twenty-one feet. Two-thirds of a second: Even if the officer fires two shots and gets good hits with both of them. how many feet per second is that? It's an average of fourteen-point-two feet per second. brings the weapon on line and fires. Reality is quite different. draws. He starts running at the cop. the bad guy may have enough oxygen and adrenaline in his system to keep moving. In reality it would be less than two seconds. In less about twothirds of a second after the bullet impact to his body. The cop recognizes the danger. Even if we worked with that two-point-two-five seconds as a realistic number for covering thirty-two feet. the time would be about two-point-two-five seconds. Now accepting that. in complete control of his motions.

Have a fellow officer run at you hard for fifteen and a half seconds (did you forget the first one-point-five seconds?) while you try to run at an angle backwards. didn't present an immediate and deadly threat to Magliato. someone reading this is saying. trying to keep a weapon tracking on someone who is attacking you with a knife or other deadly weapon for more than fifteen or twenty feet? Give it a shot some time. and we all know that the officer can't run backwards even half as fast as the bad guy can run forwards. If you accept that the average man can run more than thirty feet in about two seconds. bat or other contact weapon can 3 . Do this in a soft area so that you don't hurt yourself when you fall backwards as the "bad guy" plows over you.could run well over thirty-two feet in far less than six seconds. Sure. constantly moving in an arc. how far can he run in that fourteen seconds after your bullets have struck him and done serious damage to his vital organs. there is more thinking and math to do." Ask yourself this: Have you tried running backwards. after he has begun to bleed out? At thirty feet per two seconds. their momentum will carry them forward and we'll no longer be there. holding a deadly weapon. With regard to this issue. "That's why we run in an arc so that as they lose control of their system. and even then you're assuming an average man with lethal injuries who has not consumed any substances that would affect his performance. Obviously some disparity exists here. A man thirty-two feet away. an armed and trained police officer? Think about it for just a moment and consider this: there is certainly no way that a man seventy yards away with a knife. that's about two-hundred-ten feet: seventy yards! More than two thirds of a football field is how far you would have to run backwards in an arc to consider yourself safely away. but a man seventy yards away can present a deadly threat to you.

one would think it prudent not to wait for him to reach the twenty-one foot mark before firing your sidearm. there is little chance that the rounds. you have to do that while fending off whatever attack he presents. At contact distance. However. By the way. It would probably be even more prudent to keep obstacles between yourself and the threat so that the time it takes him to close distance is even greater. armed with a knife. "How much damage can an injured man armed with a knife do against an uninjured police officer armed with a gun?" Well.immediately harm you. if that same man starts running at you with the obvious intent of doing you bodily harm. So. in a time span of six to fourteen seconds. you all know that bullets do not instantly stop anyone unless you achieve the more-than-rare central nervous system hit. you know that the assailant can function as described above. excepting that centralnervous-system. we can all foresee the juror who says. if they hit the assailant. What can the assailant. and within contact distance do to you in that same time span? Common sense suggests that 4 . what can you do as a police officer with a firearm? Shoot him several more times increasing the amount of tissue damage done and reducing the amount of time it will take him to "bleed out". for another six to fourteen seconds or until his system finally runs out of oxygen and adrenaline. will pass through his body exactly on center to impact his spine and immediately stop his threatening actions. As all officers are trained to shoot for "center mass" since it is the largest target and therefore presents the best chance of actually hitting the armed assailant. Finally.

To some extent. force of numbers (in the case of more than one assailant) or special knowledge on either part. If the assailant has a gun or knife. if there is no specified distance at which you can readily assume an armed assailant is too close and deadly force on your part is justified. overwhelming size. or others. or others. "imminent" is controlled by distance. harm.he could stab you anywhere from twelve to twenty-eight times. His size and/or strength can also create his ability to do you. Ability can exist in a number of forms such as weapons. physical strength. how do you know when it's okay to shoot? Just as with the use of deadly force against any threat. or others. That skill in heavyweight boxing is special knowledge that he possesses that makes him a greater threat. A man with a knife can't do you harm at fifty feet. So. If there is more than one assailant. but at contact distance he definitely can. that guy at fifty feet may not be presenting 5 . four factors must exist prior to your response with deadly force. Special knowledge is a two edged sword. 2) Ability: the assailant must have the ability to bring killing or crippling power to bear. If the assailant does not present imminent jeopardy to you. substituting slashes for stabs as he sees fit. harm. Again. no where in any cop's job description does it say you have to fight an assailant with a knife since you are specifically equipped and trained to avoid getting into that situation. 3) Imminent jeopardy is the third factor and must exist prior to your deployment of deadly force. 1) Opportunity: your assailant must have the opportunity to bring killing or crippling power to bear. you say to yourself. You can have special knowledge of the assailant's proven intent or skill. This is the factor that is most affected by distance. How quickly he can close that distance and how quickly you can stop him has a direct affect on his opportunity to do you. everywhere he can reach. Further. that creates his ability. you cannot justify the use of deadly force. That doesn't sound like a good time. such as he's a professional heavyweight boxer. together they stand a better chance of doing harm than when alone.

Police officers don't have a requirement to retreat. the threat he produces easily becomes imminent. as an option. To review: it's takes one-point-five seconds or less for an armed bad guy to close twenty-one feet and do you bodily harm. avoid this deadly force confrontation. The officer must be able to articulate. or couldn't. once he (the bad guy) starts charging you (the police officer). has been removed. why he didn't. which may lead to the use of deadly force. It takes less than two-point-two-five seconds for that 6 . In the case of a man with a knife. The fourth. and final. then preclusion is removed as soon as he begins his charge. imminent jeopardy exists and preclusion.an imminent threat. The statement "preclusion is the fourth factor" truly means that avoiding the situation has been considered and is not a viable option. seventy-five feet or less and is armed with any type of killing or crippling contact weapon. and certainly conditions can exist wherein the police officer has no choice but to stand his ground. All the mathematics above should have adequately demonstrated that he can close seventy-five feet in less than six seconds and that. along with all three other elements. Therefore. Any prudent person will normally make an attempt to escape or avoid the situation. it is maintained that. or other deadly contact weapon. even if you score good disabling shots while he closes. The duty to protect others may mandate that you face the threat without the option of running from it. he may still have plenty of operational time remaining in which to do you potentially fatal harm. his ability to close distance and deliver a killing or crippling injury is far greater than your ability to escape or stop his attack. but when he starts to move toward you. if he is within trained handgun distance. If he is within the distance we typically train at with our handguns (twenty-five yards or seventy-five feet is usually the maximum distance). factor is preclusion. At that point. bat. all four factors exist for your justified use of deadly force in defense of yourself or others under your protection.

get used to getting hit.. but of preparing yourself for the physiological shock of the give and take of an altercation (in or out of the ring!). and you officers on the street will all have to do exactly that. What do you want to bring to a knife fight?" Many of the people in the classes he teach respond with.. there is much value in experiencing the "pain" of not only pushing yourself physically and mentally.." He smiles a knowing smile and says....same bad guy to close thirty-two feet and do you bodily harm. "No. he has enough oxygen and adrenaline in his system to close another two-hundredand-ten feet (seventy yards!) and do you bodily harm. The next time you are in an "Edged Weapons Defense" class.. bear this in mind.or "tapped". and you never know what the bad guy is bringing to the fight. bear this in mind." Though it should be obvious that nobody wants to train just to get hurt. The next time you pull up on the scene of a violent domestic and that guy has a hammer in his hand in his front yard. but nobody wants to go to his class. "A knife. The next time you decide to park you cruiser within twenty feet of a vehicle on a traffic stop.or. As an instructor friend of mine is so fond of saying: "You always want to bring a gun to a gun fight. bear this in mind! You rarely know who the bad guy is.. In other words.or hit with a stick.. a gun." 10 Seconds To Fight By: Armando Basulto Some coaches subscribe to the old saying: "Pain is the best teacher. After you've shot the bad guy. Warriors throughout history have made experiential learning part of their training. Men who prepared for war were expected to deal with the stress and shock of being on the 7 .

taking blow after blow. during the Civil War and the Indian Wars. In most of these gun battle encounters. from the time of the fatal hit to the time the lack of blood flow carrying oxygen to the brain caused loss of consciousness/death.receiving end of an enemy's attack. emboldened by a chivalric code. with lance or sword and continuing to fight. religious fervor or courtly love. In knighting ceremonies. the subject of the "Dead Man's Ten Seconds" was often mentioned in accounts depicting battles.e. but were expected to keep their wits and respond in kind. show this was not a fantastic or even uncommon occurrence. Headshots of course in most cases take out the subject at once as expected. Though at times these accounts could be exaggerated. vanquishing their opponents before (often but not always) succumbing to their mortal wounds. the newly minted knight was often struck a blow across the face with the admonition "let that be the last blow left unanswered!" Medieval chronicles depict knights. oftentimes mortally wounding and defeating their opponents before succumbing to their injuries. This happened enough that the term "Dead Man's Ten Seconds" became part of the lingo and jargon of the Frontier. was approximately ten seconds. accounts of Texas Rangers. The term "Dead Man's Ten Seconds" appears in some early Western documentation (i. Experienced fighting men of the period were aware of these 8 . In more recent history. not Dime Novel idealism). In many of these stories fighting men continued to fight heroically for ten or more seconds after taking a fatal blow. the archeological evidence showing both weapons and men surviving after repeated battle abuse. depicting old gunfighters of the frontier era receiving fatal wounds yet still out-firing their opponents.

Jennings. I never witnessed it go past that point knowing full well they meant that they would follow thru.. Of course. Duels with Bowie knives were common during this same period and accounts of these fights in newspapers of the time tell of the combatants wounding each other over and over and continuing to fight (see Duels and the Roots of Violence in Missouri. In a gun battle. both handy with the gun.would have his "Ten Seconds" to do what he needed to do. As countless police videos will attest. a fatally hit human can still function for 10 seconds or longer. both by Dr. regardless of the physical damage done. Medical Examiner discuss that if the central nervous system is not hit and the skeletal structure has not been damaged to the point that it cannot bear the weight of the body. and in most cases it takes some time before the loss of consciousness is complete." These "Ten Seconds" are far more common in a knife fight after a fatal wound."Ten Seconds". We are conditioned by TV and the movies to expect a person (and ourselves) to fall immediately and die instantly when struck by a bullet.A. Forensic Pathology and Gun Shot Wounds. the most unpredictable component affecting reaction time and capability is the psychology of being shot. 9 . this assumes a certain degree of rationality. perhaps more than in unarmed combat. Two books. Many "one shot stops" occur because of the psychological trauma of being shot. which can be absent due to drugs.. circa 1870's) tells about two Texas Rangers that had a huge dislike for each other but. One account (a first hand account in the book A Texas Ranger by N. by Dick Steward). knew that the other ". alcohol and psychosis. this only happens with any surety in the movies. Dominick J. DiMaio. I have heard several men tell another man in the heat of a bitter dispute to take his best shot if he wanted but he 'Would have his ten' as well.

an FBI agent. we always train both aimed fire. law enforcement personnel (and our combat troops) are taught to keep firing as long as the bad guy continues to present a deadly force threat .e. In Basulto Academy's Combat Pistolcraft curriculum. heart. organs involved. If not. Dr Martin Fackler. One of the conclusions of the study was that if the brain or upper cervical spines are hit. and instinctual or "Point of Aim" fire. liver. This is not only to accommodate the degradation in fine 10 . incapacitation is almost invariably immediate. Though most people are fortunate to have their knowledge of killing limited to TV and movies. incapacitation can take 10 seconds or longer. and rate of blood loss.Michael Platt. the director of the wound ballistics laboratory at the Presidio of San Francisco in the 1980's. He continued fighting and killed two agents. who was involved in the FBI's "Miami Massacre" (1986). Spring 2001). The only shot that will instantly stop a fight is one which disables the central nervous system (brain or spinal cord). Depending on the size of the wound cavity. spleen) and arteries to promote the rapid lose of blood and consciousness. Ed Mirales. police officers are trained to expect someone who has been shot to be capable of continuing the fight for some time (at LEAST 10 seconds) certainly enough to empty the magazine on their weapon. did the definitive work on this subject (Wound Ballistics Review. With this in mind. and helped the FBI (and others) reach decisions in handgun calibers and bullet design. was hit with a non-survivable wound within seconds of the initial gunfire. Volume 5 Number 1. was shot in the arm with a crippling round. and managed to wound several more before dying.i. the bullet must create a large enough wound cavity and disrupt blood-bearing organs (lungs. It followed the 1986 Miami FBI shootout. they drop the weapon or lose consciousness. yet was able to work the action on an 870 shotgun one handed. and end the fight.

This can.motor skills caused by the adrenaline rush but also to prepare one tactically and mentally for being able to return fire and "stay in the fight". you could only limit yourself to the "shock" of a particular intensity and/or scenario (unless you are willing to ask your training partner to shoot you or stab you weekly so "you can get used to it"!) What is required is also a complete realignment as to your expectations and limitations when the chips are down. My Muay Thai teacher instilled in his students the mantra of "take one. even after having received a wound. give two!" He was tough fighter in Thailand. Your mind must be sharpened to the commitment to "stay in the fight" regardless of pain or surrounding distractions. his commitment so complete to the ring that he had a tattoo across his forehead (literally!) announcing his occupation as a fighter for all to see. a Muay Thai or boxing match. is essential. Visualization. and should be a self- 11 . before and after training. whether it be a Savate match. Daily sparring is not enough (though it is a step in the right direction). What makes fighters tough is their familiarity and acceptance of the blows as part of balancing that algebraic equation of "The Fight". You must develop your "Will to Survive" beyond the mere "tough guy" level. It is not simply the "get tough" attitude in dealing with training injuries or exhaustion. accuracy and intensity are not affected. It is also a trained familiarity with the trauma of getting hit so that response time. This "Stay in the Fight" mindset is an attribute that must be developed and trained in all self-preservation scenarios. For obvious reasons. would put the average pedestrian down before the cameras would have time to take a picture. but your mindset while sparring or "rolling" or even at the firing range must be developed as well. Many of the blows received in the ring.

You should incorporate this mindset development into all facets of your training. You owe it to yourself. dedicate a portion of your time to point firing and not just target practice. . you immediately release and continue from that position.managed part of your training. the ideal is to feel confident in what your mental and physical state will be even when traumatized.When grappling. to "Cowboy up"! 12 . Do a whole round where you are not allowed to punch or kick (only defense) followed immediately by a round where you respond to every hit by your opponent with 3 blows. when sparring. always roll for a predetermined time period (not until someone taps) and do not reset after each tap but rather have a mutual agreement that as soon as a submission is locked in. then immediately draw your weapon and fire. and your loved ones entrusted to your care. . but in a self-preservation mode. Ultimately. A great drill is to do a set of Squats/Pushups to raise your heart rate. but a good coach will lead you to it without you even knowing it. .For starters. your "ten seconds" could mean life or death for you and your loved ones.At the firing range. never allow yourself to stop or quit before the round is over. Your ability to stay in the fight is important in a competitive sport environment.